Leave Yesterday’s Mistakes Behind

yesterdays mistakes


Our past is a huge part of our future…our stories shape us and we become a women of our individual journeys. I don’t believe we can or should leave our stories behind us and think that we can just forget where we’ve been or what we’ve done.

But let’s not let our mistakes or sins keep us from the beauty that God has before us.

The ashes are a necessary part of the beauty, but don’t let the ashes direct us, let hope and trust in the Father direct us.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.


portfolio cups copyI had a beautiful morning. Nine ladies sitting around a table at Panera Bread.

The stories ranged from a single young lady who loved to knit to an “experienced” woman of 92 who had raised five children and also started an organization to spay and neuter feral cats in South Florida.

This is what I love about Praise and Coffee. No agendas, just a springboard of questions to get the conversation going and see where it leads us.

It was Dawn’s first Praise and Coffee and she did a fabulous job! She encouraged us with Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and made sure that everyone had a chance to share what was on their heart.

I loved hearing about one woman who was becoming a Grandma for the first time. It would not have been her plan to see her daughter having a child right now, but God was giving her a love for this baby that she will help raise.

Another gal had just recently lost a lot of weight and another was feeling especially insecure about what God wanted her to do with her life.

Real women with stories to share.

I think Marty (she’s 92 but has decided to reverse the numbers and celebrate her 29th birthday each year from now on) blessed us most when she shared how she has walked all these years with the Lord.

She said that it’s all about F-A-I-T-H.

F- fantastic

A- adventure

I- in

T- trusting

H- Him

She encouraged us to be aware of Him in our lives every single hour. She said that luck has nothing to do with the wonderful things that happen in our life. It’s all about Him.

I couldn’t help but sit there and think about how she was exactly twice my age and still on fire for God, I love it.

Then Dawn, who seems to have the most solid faith of anyone in the room, shared how she’s struggled to find hope when her heart was broken.

It was a beautiful morning.
It reminded me why I started Praise and Coffee in the first place.
Just a few women, sharing life over a cup of coffee.


If you would like to share in this ministry, hop over here to find out how (or email me): How Anyone Can Start a Praise and Coffee

I am also starting a six week online study this Monday, October 7th. I’d love to have you join us!
Check here for more details: Becoming Me Through Him ~ Online Study 



Finding Happiness

What will make you happy? What do you really want?

More of __________________________.

Less of ___________________________.

And how much more or less will be the indicator of your supposed happiness?

If that which is outside us could fulfill and bring us joy, it would be evident in those who have so much and are so happy. No, we see a world filled with an excess of things and yet empty of joy.

The only true source of joy is found within. It’s found in the quiet place of our heart that doesn’t have to run from the pain or noise of this life.

Peace is what’s lacking.

We will scratch and claw our way through life, blaming others and ranting about injustice until our hearts find this place of peace.

I don’t believe it can be found until we rest in the love of the One who created us.

When we find Him in our loneliness and experience that He is enough, we will have touched the eternal.

It’s not a process, it’s not a physical place, it’s not a person and it’s not a church or group.

It’s Him.

When we believe that we are loved and have been put on this earth for a reason, even without fully understanding that reason, we begin a journey that is evidenced by peace and then joy.

The question is not “what” will make us happy, but “who” will make us happy?

It’s the One who left the stones on the ground and embraced the rambunctious children.
It’s the One who never promised an easy road but promised to walk the stormy journey with us.
It’s the One who walked away from the righteous to embrace the mess of humanity.

It’s the One who loves you. Yes you, mess and all.

Is Your Past Holding You Hostage?

Your mind reels with memories that imprison you. You rehearse the events like Groundhog Day, each time inserting a new response in your mind of things you wish you’d said. If only you’d told them this or reacted like that. But at the end of your minds’ spiral, life is not changed, the facts cannot be undone.

Have you ever been tormented by your own thoughts?

I’ve spent far too long in this life rehearsing pain from my past. Betrayal, regret, even abuse, and I can’t think hard enough to process them through to a place of peace; they have to be taken hold of and released.

You know you should forgive, you want to. You want your life back. You plead with your own heart to just move on, but you can’t seem to find the freedom you desperately crave. The past is holding you hostage as you realize that you still hold out hope that somehow the memories could be different, but as long as we stay in the place of regret we cannot move forward.

Forgiveness and healing can only happen when we give up hope that the past could be different.

There is a settling in our heart that happens when we embrace the truth that the past is done, it cannot be changed. However, we can change our tomorrows, and as I let the remorse slip from my hands I start to see with the eyes of hope.

Hope is a waking dream. —ARISTOTLE

As if we wake from a long slumber, hope brings fresh eyes and dreams of freedom. Thankfully, these dreams can come true if our hope is in the Father of all life because He has promised to heal our brokenness when we bring it to Him.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalms 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalms 147:3

I don’t pretend to think that this is an easy or fast process, but it’s the only process that makes us whole.  This world offers many ways to deflect the pain, but I believe that God wants to bring much more than a momentary distraction. He wants a relationship with us that brings healing and security as we discover His immense love for us.

I wish I had some fancy steps that you could take, an ABC of healing that I could throw out to you, but I don’t. I have the scars that remind me that this life is a journey not cut and tied in pretty little bows but instead a path littered with thorns and crosses, prodigals and promises. I can’t imagine trying to walk it alone, I hope you can’t either.

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 NLT

God created you. He knows all, He sees all, and yet He is crazy about you. He can be found in every moment if we open our eyes and look up.

What If Your Church Didn’t Exist Anymore?

Many hairstyles ago I stood in front of the church that my husband pastored and shared a thought that burned so deep inside me I couldn’t help but breathe it out loud. With a shaking that reached from my platinum blonde hair to my painted toes I asked the congregation, “What would happen if you didn’t have a church to attend anymore?” It was not an announcement of the church closing its doors; but more a sense of the burden on my heart that we are all too comfortable sitting in the church.

What would you do if there were no church to get ready for on Sunday? What if there were no Bible studies or MOPS groups?

How would your family navigate their Christianity without the church building? Do you feel equipped to teach the truths of the Bible to your children?

Obviously we don’t have to navigate the road of Christianity alone, we have churches and groups and the freedom to assemble, and for this I am grateful. But I still wonder, what if?

I believe that God wants a relationship with us that is not dependent on church attendance.

I have driven home from church and felt a sense of satisfaction by the mere fact that I attended. I hadn’t connected with anyone or learned anything that sparked faith in my heart. But that religious side of me felt approved by God just by walking in the doors, sitting in a pew, picking up a bulletin and smiling at the greeter on the way out.
I want more than that in my relationship with the God of Creation. I believe God wants more for us.
I think it does us all good to stop and think about how our lives would look if the freedom to assemble in our churches disappeared. I’m not saying this because I think that is what’s happening; I’m not storing up guns in my basement or buying rice in bulk. But I think we need to look at our relationship with the Father and consider if it’s authentic enough that it would pass down to the next generation without overhead projectors or flannel boards teaching them about Noah’s Ark.

THE Church (the body of Christ) will exist, but if your building weren’t available, how would you do?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

The Summer Praise and Coffee Magazine!

The Summer 2011 issue is published!

Again, I am so touched by the stories of women who walked through the hard times and clung to the God who loves them.

From a mother who saw her daughter engulfed in flames.

To a wife who while working in the mission fields of Africa only to find that her husband had been cheating on her. That same husband working side by side with her to help aids victims.

And the mom who faced the painful fact that maybe there was more to the story when her young son didn’t make eye contact with anyone else. Maybe he was autistic.

All the while God is bringing comfort and healing in the midst of these painful trials. And eventually these wonderful women find a reason to laugh and enjoy the journey that they are on.

Real women ~ real stories.

Another very exciting part of this issue is a new column by Melanie Shankle, some of you know her as ‘big mama.’
She debuts her Fashion Cafe with us, sharing 10 darling pieces that would look great in our summer wardrobe.
You will love her picks and her adorable personality. And if by any chance you’ve never met her online, please visit her blog. big mama I promise you will love her. If not, you can call me a liar and take a sharp stick to my eye.

Sorry, I’m a little slap happy after being on the computer for the past 24 hours straight to finish the magazine on time.

So, enough listening to me- click on the cover to view the magazine!

And have a wonderful weekend.

Feeling left out of the cool girl circles

So any other girlfriends here willing to raise their hand to this question…

Who else feels left out of the cool-girl circles sometimes?

Tell me I’m not alone in this.

Crazy isn’t it?
We get thinking about how we feel outside of a certain circle of gals…all the while overlooking the circles that God has put us in.

What if God has us right where He wants us?
What if maybe the circle we think we belong in, would not be beneficial to us at all.

Maybe, just maybe the Lord wants us to be thankful for the people that He’s put in our little sphere of the world and quit trying to belong somewhere else.

Proverbs 25:13 says:
Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!

Instead of worrying about what circle that we DO NOT belong to, let’s try being this kind of friend to those in our life.

Be refreshing! Like an ice-cold mocha latte’!

I’m pretty sure that if we took this approach, we would deal less with rejection, loneliness and feelings of self-pity.

And besides that, in my book you are all so super cool and you can be a part of Praise and Coffee’s circle any day!
So, carry on and coffee up!

Guest Post: Sandy Coughlin ~ Reluctant Entertainer

I’m so thrilled to have Sandy guest posting today. We connected years ago when I first started blogging and I’ve watched God do amazing things with her ministry.
Her heart and passion is to help others find the lost art of hospitality and entertaining.

Of course this resonates with me as I love connecting and encouraging women also!
I wish Sandy didn’t live on the other side of the country because I sure would love to have her cook an amazing meal for me have coffee with her and talk for hours!

Check out her website and grab her book “The Reluctant Entertainer ~every woman’s guide to simple and gracious hospitality

Family Unity, Marriage and Blogging
by Sandy Coughlin

Sue asked me to guest post today, and she knows me well because we’ve been following each others blogs for years now. I’d say we both believe in good, healthy, strong marriages and family unity.

Even if you say you know a perfect family – well guess what? You probably don’t know them very well.

Our family is not always in unity, but when it is — when my marriage is going great, I am meeting my children’s needs, we are spending time together, our family time around the dinner table is rich, our kids are on track and content, we are growing and living for God — then I am using my gifts wisely. That where blogging comes in …

God has blessed me with a wonderful man. And the “center” of our growth as a couple comes from Him. But I recently told a friend that I gage where I am with my blog and priorities as a wife and a mother by using a barometer.

My barometer is this: How is this working within my marriage? And this is a question that we can ask ourselves about whatever we are passionate about.

If my marriage isn’t strong, then everything else seems to fall out of line.

• Is my husband in my corner? Is he in support of my passions?
• Am I making creative time for my marriage?
• Am I wowing! my husband and planning date nights?
• Does he know he’s the most important person to me (and my kids)?
• Is there tension or resentment between us?
• What is the tone when we are talking to each other?
• Am I always running off for girlfriend time?
• Am I listening to him?

If things are not good between us, these questions challenge me to get back on track. That is why I’ll sometimes say to a friend, how is this working for you and ? (hubs name here).

I’m tying this post to Reluctant Entertainer and blogging because I’ve learned that with entertaining, it can be a miserable event if I don’t have peace within my marriage and my family before it all begins.

It seems so empty if I barge ahead with plans if there is stress and strain in the home. It’s like walking into church and putting your “happy face on” when you just had a fight in the car with your husband!

Unity is important to me, as the hostess, to be real and open with my guests when they walk through the front doors. Real entertaining for real people.

How’s the unity in your home, if you are married, and even (ouch! this could be a tough one) with the things that you are passionate about?

I’d love for you to share your thoughts!

Sandy Coughlin – Reluctant Entertainer
Twitter: SandyCoughlinRE
FB: Reluctant Entertainer

View her website: Reluctant Entertainer

I’m Tired of Being Told What to Believe…are you???

Last night my husband and I watched a special on The History Channel about September 11, 2001.

It captivates me. The images and sounds bring me back to the emotions I had that day. It was like cold water being thrown in my face, it woke me up.

The fear, the uncertainty. The overwhelming sense that we would never be the same. Never.

These emotions come as I feel there is a whirlwind of confusion in our world and especially the church today. All the voices screaming different opinions.

The right wing.
The left wing
The centerist.

Some are chanting the praises of the Glenn Beck, and the “Restoring Honor” movement.
Others consider him a type of false prophet and even “breaking up” with him.

There are those saying we need to get into church and stay there.
And those saying we need to BE the church…regardless of where we are.

So many voices and opinions can get tiring to say the least.

I’m not writing this to tell you WHAT to believe. You have to iron that out yourself. Frankly I’m sick of being told what to believe. I hope you are too!

But I want look at a few verses that help me keep my feet on stable ground.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Period. No question.
Don’t follow a movement, don’t follow a person, follow Jesus.
He is the way. the truth and the life.
Salvation is not found anywhere else.

If salvation is offered with a list of requirements…throw it out. It’s not truth.

John 13:34
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you,
so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another.”

And again, Jesus’ words tell us:

Mark 12:28
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.
Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the
commandments, which is the most important?”
29″The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

These are foundational. There are many more, but if we look at these three verses we have a real good idea what is most important.

9/11 was a wake up call.

In the same way, I believe we as the body of Christ need a wake up call today.

1 Cor. 3:3
You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling
among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one
says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through
whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted
the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants
nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things
. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and
each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow
workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Time to follow Jesus.

Could you do that?

If the churches were all shut down today, could you do that?

Do you know enough about God’s Word and truth that you would know how to live?

Do you have relationships with other believers that would keep you strong?

Could you live this verse without a church building?

Hebrews 10:25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

I’m NOT saying we should do this without attending church, but if we don’t know how to do this without attending a church on Sundays…we’re in trouble.

It’s time for many of us to wake up and pay attention.
What do we believe and why?

Are we standing on our own two feet with our convictions or are we mindlessly getting caught up in all the voices trying to persuade us?

What do you believe?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

EDITED to add:
I want to clarify that I’m not saying the articles I linked are wrong…I was just throwing up articles that gave the different viewpoints. I happen to agree with some of those viewpoints.

This Keeps Me Dancing

I just love this! It puts all things into perspective.

Not sure what you’re walking through right now but if you’re like me you love anything that encourages you to trust Him more.

This is bits and pieces of Hebrews 11 from the Message Bible. When you have time read the whole chapter.

This keeps me dancing…

Hebrews 11
3 By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.

4 By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain.

5 By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely.

7 By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land.

8 By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home.

11 By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said.

13-15 Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing.

How did they do it?

They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.

People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.

If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country.

You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.

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